Prenuptial Agreements are not legally binding in Ireland. Even so, a judge may take a prenup into consideration, if the terms are fair and provide reasonable financial provision to each person.

What is a Prenuptial Agreement?

Prenuptial Agreements, also known simply as ‘prenups’, set out how your assets should be divided if your marriage ends in divorce. They can also outline other arrangements, such as who should have custody of the children and how much maintenance should be paid.

Are prenups enforced in Ireland?

Prenuptial Agreements are not legally binding in Ireland. They carry significant weight in other countries, such as Australia and Canada. However, they have no basis in Irish law. This means that if you make a prenup and later get divorced, the judge does not have to follow the terms of the agreement.

Why do people make prenups?

Despite this, the legislation in Ireland does not prevent the courts from considering prenups. You are perfectly entitled to enter into a prenup, and in fact, a judge may be persuaded to rely on the terms of the agreement if:

  • It provides proper financial provision for each person
  • Each person sought independent legal advice before signing the agreement
  • Each person fully disclosed their assets before the agreement was signed
  • The agreement was reviewed frequently, particularly after major life events such as the birth of children and the sale/purchase of assets
  • The agreement is in writing and is signed and witnessed
  • Neither person was pressured into making the agreement

So, while a prenup is not legally binding, it may provide useful guidance for the courts. It will give the judge an insight into your intentions when you first married, and may well influence the details of any ancillary relief orders that are made.

This makes prenups a useful tool for people who are entering into a second marriage, but who want to preserve their assets for children from a previous relationship. Prenups are also popular in the farming community, where divorce can potentially destruct a family-run enterprise.

Will the law ever change?

In 2007, a Government Study Group published a report recommending that courts give regard to Prenuptial Agreements. The recommendations were never implemented. It is not known whether the legislation will change in the future.

Currently, it is still considered unconstitutional to automatically enforce prenups. This is because the courts have a duty to ensure ‘proper provision’ for each person. There are concerns that this safeguard would not be satisfied, if prenups were made legally binding.

What else can you do?

If you are concerned that a divorce would deplete your assets, or cause difficulties for your business, you could always ask your spouse to renounce their legal rights under the Succession Act. This is when statutory inheritance rights are formally waived.

Speak to our family law solicitors

If you would like to know more about Prenuptial Agreements and the ways in which you can ringfence your assets, please contact us at Mullins & Treacy Solicitors. Our family law department can advise you further, explaining the options available. We are client focused and results driven.

Call us on 051 391 488 or email reception@mullinstreacy.ie for a no obligation enquiry.

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